Classical

SXSW
12:06 pm
Wed March 17, 2010

Opera Singer Who Faced Discrimination at UT-Austin in 1957 Profiled in Documentary, "When I Rise"

L to R: Rochelle Small, a student of Ms. Conrad’s, Barbara Smith Conrad, Michelle Thomas of AT&T. AT&T helped finance the production of "When I Rise."
Nathan Cone

In 1957, Barbara Smith Conrad was studying music at the University of Texas in Austin. She was cast as Dido in a student production of Henry Purcell’s opera "Dido and Aeneas." 

Two weeks before the curtain, Conrad learned that she would not be singing the role of Dido, because a state congressman had objected to an African-American woman being cast opposite a white leading man in a romantic role.  

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